The 2017 fantasy football draft is almost upon us. That means you need to have a strategy, whether you know what your pick is or if you find out on draft day. I’ve already looked at the first round suspects, so let’s take a look at who should be available in the second round.

According to average draft position in a standard 12-team league, here’s the 12 players in order that will likely be taken in the second round:

13. DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee

14. Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago

15. Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami

16. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans

17. T.Y Hilton, WR, Indianapolis

18. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas

19. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay

20. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England

21. Todd Gurley, RB, LA Rams

22. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville

23. Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland

24. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Oakland

Best Available

Jordan Howard — He’s only in his second year and there’s some possibility he won’t get the three-down work that he earned last year, but he still has the best value among this group, regardless of who you pick in the first round. If you go with a running back in the first round, Howard would create a solid two-running back punch. He’s also the sure pick if you go wide receiver with a first pick. He easily has stellar RB1 potential because he still should see plenty of work as a three-down back for a Bears offense that needs him to perform well.

Howard was a solid fantasy option last year, even without the major touchdown production. He rushed for only six touchdowns last year, so I anticipate that will be higher this year. Experts are torn on Howard’s prospects this year, but it’s a no-brainer in the second round. He’s the best available on this board.

Todd Gurley should be a better bet in the 2017 fantasy football draft. Flickr

If no Howard, then what?

Let’s say someone reaches for Howard and grabs him at the end of the first round. Now what? I’m leaning toward Gurley or Thomas. Gurley was one of the biggest busts of 2016. I like the buy-low Gurley better than last year’s version who had to carry the load for the Rams. Los Angeles still has a terrible offense, but it can’t possibly be as bad as last season. Gurley will handle the majority of the work and he has good value as a late second-round pick who will be on the field for three downs. But I also can see where Thomas has a legitimate shot to be a top-five wide receiver in fantasy football.

Thomas is going to carry the workload for the Saints among the wide receivers. Thomas had nine touchdowns and more than 1,000 yards in a season where he got off to a slow start. That shouldn’t be the case this year, especially with Brandin Cooks not taking away targets this season. The Saints will throw a lot and Thomas is a good WR1 choice, especially as a second player chosen on your roster.

Sneaky Good

Fournette and Cooper — We don’t have any way to judge how Fournette will handle his rookie year, and we’ve seen other Jaguar running backs completely fail in fantasy football. However, Fournette is as ready for the NFL as any college running back since Adrian Peterson. The Jaguars are one of my favorite sleepers entering this season and the offense will welcome Fournette with open arms. He may not see work as a three-down back right away, but he should get all the goal line work and see plenty of touches on first and second downs. Jacksonville should have more leads than normal, giving way to Fournette racking up major second-half yardage.

In addition to Fournette, I also love Cooper. He’s in his third year and has upped his receptions and yards in each of his first two seasons. He’s targeted more than eight times per game in an offense that will air it out with accurate throws from Derek Carr. Cooper has a great quarterback and if he’s your WR1, you could do a lot worse. He’s a safe pick that will produce.

Risky Business

Rodgers, Murray and Gronkowski — Gronkowski and Rodgers are not going to bust. But you’re going to miss out on a top-tier wide receiver or running back in order to fill a roster spot featuring a No. 2 option that will be taken in later rounds. I’m staying away from both because those positions are too valuable to pass over. Gronkowski is by far the best tight end, but he’s an injury risk. The Patriots also added Cooks, who will take away some targets from Gronk. Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL, but he is extremely touchdown-dependent. He doesn’t generally throw for the most yards, so that is a slight risk. He’s going to be good, but he’s not Peyton Manning level from 2013, so I’m passing.

Murray is a different story. He’s my No. 1 bust candidate based on his previous workload and likelihood that he can’t put it together for another full season. We’ve seen this song and dance from Murray before, so I’m avoiding him at all costs and picking up his backup Derrick Henry later in my draft.

From the outside looking in

I’m keeping an eye on Lamar Miller, who owns an ADP slightly outside of the second round at 26, according to FantasyPros. Miller was top-five in carries last season, and while that could drop a bit this year, his production shouldn’t take a hit. He couldn’t find the endzone last season, so I’m believing that will improve. He’s still a needed weapon for the Texans who should see work as a three-down back. That gives him tremendous value, that if you’re picking late in the second round, he has better upside than some of the other second-round options.

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